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Sunday, Aug. 15, 2004

Reds sink Vissel

KOBE (Kyodo) Brazilian striker Emerson rifled home a superb late winner as Urawa Reds defeated Vissel Kobe 3-2 on Saturday, the opening day of the J. League second stage.

News photo
Jubilo Iwata midfielder Toshiya Fujita (left) battles Oita Trinita midfielder Takashi Umeda for the control of the ball during first half Saturday at Oita Stadium. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Urawa, which was without a number of first-team regulars on Olympic duty in Athens, took the lead through Makoto Hasebe and the 20-year-old midfielder doubled the visitors' advantage after 40 minutes.

Kobe hit back through Ryuji Bando just before the break and Hiroyuki Komoto pulled the home side level six minutes into the second half when he headed home a cross from Czech midfielder Pavel Horvath.

Kobe was showcasing newly acquired players Tomoyuki Hirase and former Cameroon international Patrick Mboma, but neither impressed and it was 2003 J. League Player of the Year Emerson who stole the show 10 minutes from time with a 25-meter effort for his 14th goal of the season.

Elsewhere, first-stage runnerup Jubilo Iwata was held to a 1-1 draw away to Oita Trinita while struggling Cerezo Osaka got off to a winning start by edging FC Tokyo in a seven-goal thriller at Nagai Stadium.

Iwata, which had a poor first-stage run in and was edged by Yokohama F. Marinos for the title, came from behind to salvage a point thanks to a Rodrigo Gral strike while Hiroaki Morishima was the hero as Cerezo prevailed 4-3 thanks to the former Japan midfielder's 80th-minute winner.

In Chiba Prefecture, a double from Brazilian striker Marqunihos gave JEF United Ichihara a 2-1 win at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Masashi Oguro also scored twice as Gamba Osaka beat Nagoya Grampus Eight by the same scoreline.

In other games, Tokyo Verdy beat visiting Albirex Niigata 2-0 and Kashima Antlers edged Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 at home.

Defending champions Yokohama starts its bid to become the first team to win four consecutive stage titles when it takes on Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday. The two-stage format ends after this season.

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